The Legendary 1929 Mercedes SSK Gazelle

The first thing to know about the Mercedes SSK's were that only forty were ever built. Today's replicar models are called the Gazelles and while there's some disagreement as to what company built the first Gazelle replicar, Tiffany Motor Cars does appear to be the first company to advertise them. SSK was an abbreviation for Super Sport Kurz or Super Sport Short.

mercedes gazelle 1929

1929 Mercedes Gazelle SSK

It's thought today that only five of these original Mercedes SSK models survive. As you can imagine they rank at the top for car collectors. These are some of the most revered sports cars in all the world and are as close to priceless as you can get.

The Mercedes SSK was designed by Ferdinand Porshe with a six cylinder supercharged engine putting out 300 horsepower. This made the Mercedes SSK one of the fastest cars in the world. The SSK models were essentially a shorter and lighter version of the Mercedes S model. Along with being one of the world's fastest sports cars it also was one of the world's most beautiful. The car was a masterful piece of work by Porshe before he eventually went on and began his own auto company.

Daimler-Benz and Ferdinand Porsche During the 1920's

The creation of the Mercedes SSK as shown in the 1929 Mercedes Gazelle replicar featured in this article goes back to Daimler's racing efforts during the mid 1920's.

In 1923 Ferdinand Porsche left the Austro-Daimler organization and moved to Stuttgart  where he joined the Daimler German company. Daimler in Germany had entered a supercharged racer in the 1923 Indy 500 which did not perform. It failed so bad that Porsche took on the task of correcting the supercharged car so that Daimler wouldn't have to go through that embarrassment again.

dashboard mercedes gazelle

Mercedes Gazelle dashboard

As strange as it might sound, Germany had some eighty six separate automobile companies in 1924. This was a mere five years after the end of World War One.

The only possible outcome would be consolidation and this did involve Daimler. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz et Cie signed an "Agreement of Mutual Interest." Two years later, in June of 1926 this association became an official merger which formed the new company Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft. The hyphenated brand name Mercedes-Benz was established after the merger.

Probably the biggest boost for Porshe's efforts was when Daimler-Benz management in 1926 decided to scuttle the two cylinder race engines in favor of 6.0 liter engines. On top of that, cost was not a consideration. This gave Porsche a lot of creative leeway.

The Birth of the Mercedes-Benz S Models

The Mercedes S models as well as the SS, SSK and SSKL's were expensive cars and were limited edition models. Just as the surviving models today are priceless, the limited edition models built in the late 1920's were for only the wealthiest of individuals.

Porsche was directly responsible for the S, SS and SSK's whereas the SSKL came out after Ferdinand Porsche departed Daimler.

The new Mercedes-Benz S models with their large supercharged engines made it big on the racing circuit from 1928 to 1931. The cars weighed nearly 4,000 lbs which made steering a physical challenge nevertheless they were a great racing success.

History records that Porsche's departure from Daimler had to do with his desire to make automobiles for the workingman (family sedans)  whereas the Daimler's board was happy to just make and sell expensive automobiles. Even though the board tried to keep Porshe around and point him in a different direction, his well known temper didn't make that remotely possible. Ferdinand Porshe left Daimler and went to join automaker Steyr in Austria.

1929 mercedes ssk replicar

Rear view of the 1929 Mercedes Gazelle

1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK Specifications

The Mercedes SSK had a 7 liter inline six cylinder supercharged engine. Top speed was rated at 120 MPH.

Transmission was a four speed manual.

Brakes were four wheel drum.

Suspension included a sold front axle and a torque tube rear axle and front and rear half-elliptical leaf springs.

The cars dimensions include a 116.0 inch wheelbase, an overall length of 167.0 inches, a width of 67.0 inches and height of 68.0 inches. The curb weight was 3,750 lbs.

As mentioned above, only forty of the Mercedes-Benz SSK models were built and half of those were sold as racing cars. Many of those racing models ended up in crashes and some of those were used for parts. This demonstrates just how rare those five surviving vehicle are.

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1929 mercedes-benz ssk

Mercedes-Benz Gazelle

The 1929 Merdedes SSK Replicars

With only five original Mercedes-Benz SSK's estimated to be around today, if you want to drive or collect one of these beautiful automobiles you'll likely need a replicar.

You'll likely find a good number of these Mercedes replicars offered for sale and they're usually priced reasonably. The replicars have been built of a variety of platforms along with a variety of engines and transmissions. As of this writing we see several used Mercedes SSK replicars priced in the $7,000 to $12,000 range.

 

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

 

 

The Luxurious 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S Sedan

The type of Mercedes-Benz 220S Sedan featured in this article were produced only from 1956 to 1959. The car shown is a 1959 Mercedes 220S Sedan built on the W 180 II chassis. The 220S models are also referred to as Mercedes-Benz Ponton's.

1959 mercedes 220S

1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S Sedan

The Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton Sedan

The 220S model is distinguished from the 220Aa which was produced from 1954 to 1956 on the exterior by the chrome trim. The chrome strip running along the fender and door is seen on the 220S Ponton models. Mercedes-Benz also offered a 220 model coupe and cabriolet which sold far less than the sedan.

The word Ponton is derived from the German language word pontoon. The term was used exclusively by Mercedes-Benz from 1953 through 1962 and is thought of as being Mercedes' first true post war series.

The Mercedes 220S had unitized body and frame construction and front and rear independent suspension. Two advantages of unitized construction is that generally more weight can be handled and the body/frame itself weighs less and can offer better fuel efficiency. Prewar Mercedes did not use unitized construction.

1959 mercedes grille

59 Mercedes-Benz grille and front end

The interior of Mercedes-Benz vehicles have always been expertly appointed. You'll notice the carved wood on the dashboard of the 1959 220S model featured in this article. Hand carved wood and soft leather were big selling points.

During the entire production cycle from 1956 through 1959 there were about 55,000 sedans produced as opposed to 1,250 coupes and 2,175 cabriolets.

Advertising the Mercedes 220S

Mercedes-Benz called their 220S models a vehicle for discriminating buyers. The company claimed that for anyone who would drive one it is an automobile of extraordinary performance. The car was said to offer relaxation and security on every trip. Another slogan used was "Quality and what is behind it".

If you run across advertisements for the 1959 Mercedes models you'll notice that the Tristar emblem is in the foremost position of each ad. In general Mercedes-Benz promoted their automobiles as comfortable, practical, reliable and affordable.

mercedes 220s dashboard

Mercedes-Benz 220S dashboard

1959 Merceds-Benz 220S Specifications

1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S came with an inline six cylinder engine.

Transmission was a four speed manual with a column shifter. Mercedes also offered the Hydrak automatic clutch. This optional device actually served as a bridge between a manual transmission and an automatic. The driver would engage this Hydrak clutch by using push buttons in the column shift lever. This eliminated the foot clutch pedal.

The 1959 Mercedes 220S had a relatively short wheelbase at 111.0 inches. Overall outside length was 187.0 inches, a width of 69.0 inches,a height of 61.0 inches and a dry weight of 3,000 lbs.

Front suspension included coil springs, double wishbones and a stabilizing bar. Rear suspension was comprised of coil springs and a swing axle.

Brakes were power four wheel drum.

New car price in 1959 was about $4,500 to $5,000.

1959 mercedes 220s sedan

1959 Mercedes 220S rear

Personalized Ownership Certificate

The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center offers owners the opportunity to purchase a Personalized Ownership Certificate  confirming the identity of the vehicle and identifies one's vehicle's features when it rolled off the assembly line. Thus Individually issued certificate by the Daimler Corporation Archives in a professionally bound black case. For more information about this and the costs see website http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/data/p...icateorder.pdf

There is a Mercedes-Benz Classic Center located in Irvine California. Per their website...The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California, is the ideal place for owners, collectors, and enthusiasts to connect with this legendary brand. In addition to meticulously restoring and selling classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the Classic Center offers appraisals, provides Genuine Mercedes-Benz Classic Parts

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mercedes 220s sedan

220S rear fender / tail light

Mercedes-Benz 220S Collector Cars

All postwar 1950's Mercedes-Benz automobiles are collector cars. From the 220S models the Cabriolet is the most valuable. As mentioned above, there were only a little over 2,000 of these produced during the production cycle so they are rare. You may find 220S Cabriolets with asking prices of anything from $60,000 into the six figures.

For the 1959 Mercedes-Benz Sedans, non restored very good conditioned models may be found in the mid teens into the $20,000 range. Restored sedans may be in the $40,000 to $100,000 range all depending on condition and how much of the vehicle is original equipment.

A Beautiful 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Convertible

The 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Convertible featured in this article was the most sportiest Mercedes built to date. When this beautiful car was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1957 the new model essentially meant the retirement of the famous James Bond movie Gullwing Mercedes. Most people wouldn't see those type of vertically opening car doors until the ex-General Motors engineer John DeLorean became an automaker.

1958 Mercedes Roadster

1958 Mercedes Roadster

Many people were of the opinion that the 300 SL actually changed the entire image of Mercedes-Benz from only a builder of conservative luxury vehicles to that of also a builder of streamlined designed sports cars with top performance. The first 300 SL in 1952 did exceptionally well at Le Mans and other racing venues.

An interesting fact about the 300 SL was that it had been a racing car from Mercedes. It was sold to racing customers, not the general public. The car's body was constructed with aerodynamic efficiency. The race car had little trim. Mercedes was not interested at the time for building the racing 300 SL as a road car.

Making a Racer Into a Road Car

350 SL Roadster

300 SL Roadster

A street version was not manufactured until Mercedes-Benz board of directors received a plea accompanied with a large order for a road version 300 SL  from American Mercedes importer Max Hoffman.

The argument for it and the subsequent order was placed to satisfy sports car buyers in the booming post war economy. That order changed the entire picture. Now Mercedes-Benz would start producing a race car for the street, a car that was originally designed for speed and performance. At the same time Mercedes-Benz announced another model, the smaller and lower priced 190 SL convertible.

The road version 300 SL did indeed incorporate many of the technological advancements made possible by auto racing. Some of the advancements had to do with body styling. The bulges over the wheel openings actually improved high-speed stability. Another advancement was the use of aluminum on the doors, hood and trunk lid.

Famous race driver Stirling Moss had very good luck with the SLR model at various venues. A Mercedes SLR was ahead in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans when another car, careening into the crowd, killed 82 people resulting in the SLR withdrawing from the race.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Interior

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Interior

An interesting side note from this tragic loss of life in 1955 was that American automakers, through their industry association, later made a gentlemen's agreement to not be involved in any type of racing or motorsport competitions. Although there was not "official" factory sponsorships after this agreement, racing and endurance competitions were important for automakers, especially those selling performance based cars, and the automakers found indirect ways to stay involved in competitive motorsports.

A lot of the 300 SL's great performance was attributed to it's light weight tubular frame. Thus the "SL" designation..."Sport and Leicht". Leicht meaning light. Max Hoffman of New York might very well be the only reason why the road version 300 SL was built to begin with.

When the Mercedes 300 Sl road version was built and distributed it satisfied the demand of many Americans for small European sports cars. The new car price tag for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was easily north of $8,000. Quite a large amount of money for an automobile in 1958 but there was a waiting market.

1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

The mechanics and engineering beneath the body was not all too different than the prior Gullwing Mercedes but some design changes were enacted. First of all, the 1958 Mercedes 300 SL had regular doors. In addition to that the sports car had larger front fenders, a smaller grille, a rounder windshield and a chrome accent stripe on the car's side.

The roadster version of the 300 SL lacked the strength of the roof that the coupe had. To compensate for that the chassis needed to be redesigned to add strength. This resulted with the roadster models having slightly more weight than the coupes.

1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Specifications

The 1958 300 SL engine was also not too different from the Gullwing power plant. What is important is that the car was said by some to be able to reach 155 MPH. Other speed claims rate the car a bit lower with a maximum of 130 MPH.The coupe models had better aerodynamics and could hit the higher maximum speeds. The 1958 300 SL was considered among the fastest cars of the decade.

The engine in the 1958 Mercedes 300 SL was a 180.0 cubic inch Inline six cylinder with direct fuel injection. The Zero to 60 MPH rating was an extremely impressive 7.1 seconds. The engine delivered 215 horsepower.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

The transmission with the 1958 Mercedes was a four speed manual.

Front suspension was independent with A arms and coil springs. Rear suspension was a swing axle with coil springs.

The wheelbase was 94.5 inches,

The 1958 Mercedes 300 SL had a weight of about 3,100 lbs.

Reportedly about 1,800 of the 300 SL Roadsters were produced compared to about 1,400 Coupes. The coupe was built from ’1954 through 1957, and the roadster from 1957 through 1961.

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A Top Collector's Car

The 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is one of the most popular collector cars out there. The 300 SL's combination of great design and performance turns heads wherever it's seen. Add to this the car's well known functionality and comfortable interior.

These are expensive collector cars. As of this writing, the 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL in mint condition can command prices of between $750,000 to $1,000,000. Selling prices for the past five years have been rising impressively for this particular Mercedes model.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)